MARION — The field is familiar and so is the course.
Linn-Mar has a chance to convert that knowledge into its first boys' state golf berth since 2015, but it won’t be easy.
The Lions host a highly-competitive 13-team Class 4A boys’ golf district Monday at Hunters Ridge Golf Course. The top three teams advance to the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.
Linn-Mar Coach Chris James said other teams are accustomed to playing Hunters, but the Lions have more experience to draw from practices and rounds.
“They’re going to know where you can hit it, where you can’t and just know the yardages more so,” James said. “That can be an advantage for us but you still have to hit the shots.”
The district includes six top-20 teams and some of the top individuals, including top-ranked Brock Barnhart of Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Marshalltown’s No. 2 Cole Davis and Cedar Falls’ No. 4 Jack Moody.
Top-ranked Cedar Falls leads the way and is a heavy favorite. Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division champion Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Washington, No. 7 Marshalltown and the Lions are among the top contenders. Western Dubuque and Cedar Rapids Prairie are capable of earning one of the berths.
All but Marshalltown and Muscatine are MVC teams. The conference foes have taken turns beating each other during the season, making this the most uncertain of the four district team races.
“We’ve seen these teams a lot,” James said. “It just depends on what teams show up and what teams play well under pressure. I do think it’s a good challenge for us because of the ranked teams.
“For us, we have to go out and do the best we can and be happy with where we fall. You can’t control what other teams do or shoot.”
The Lions are led by MVC Mississippi Player of the Year Dillon Burr. Drew Muilenburg, medalist at the first divisional, provides a strong No. 2 score.
Linn-Mar suffered a disappointing loss last Monday with Kennedy overcoming an 11-stroke deficit for the division crown. It rebounded with a victory in a triangular Thursday. James said the Lions have responded well.
“I think we’re definitely looking forward to it,” James said. “I know the guys are excited and seem ready to go. They have had a lot of good preparation this last week.”
Washington actually won an early-season meet at Hunters that included many of the same teams. The Warriors are trying to claim their fifth straight berth and are powered by sophomore Niles Petersen, sophomore Kyle Neighbors and senior Whit Haefner.
Cedar Rapids Xavier is the only Metro school that has to travel for qualifying play, joining all three Iowa City schools at Glynns Creek Golf Course in Long Grove.
The meet was switched from Valley Oaks on Thursday due to unplayable conditions. Xavier is looking to reach state for the third straight year, which would be a program first.
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“Glynns Creek is a nice golf course and will be a fair test of golf for all the participants,” Xavier Coach Tim O’Brien said. “Fortunately, for my squad, we were able to get on the course and the boys were really impressed with the choice the state made for our new district site. We look forward to competing there Monday.”
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